Moving Towards Inclusivity: British Dressage's Impressive Initiative

British Dressage has recently taken a monumental leap forward in the name of sports inclusivity. Aligning with Virtus and SportExcel UK, the organization has launched an impressive initiative supporting riders with intellectual impairments. With this move, the UK’s governing body for equestrian sports has set out to broaden the horizons of dressage, reaching beyond the confines of the present-day Para Classification system that predominantly focuses on physical and visual impairments.

A Powerful Trio: British Dressage, Virtus, and SportExcel UK

This groundbreaking collaboration brings together three powerhouses to help make equestrian sports accessible to a wider range of athletes. Virtus, an international organization, supervises sports tailored for athletes with intellectual impairments. SportExcel UK, as the official British member of Virtus, promotes, and facilitates these sports for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The combination of these three organizations is expected to lead to new paths for classification and competition tailored for riders who have intellectual impairments.

Identifying and Overcoming Barriers

The popularity of competitive sports among individuals with intellectual impairments has been growing in recent years. However, research suggests that these individuals face a plethora of obstacles that restrict their participation, such as poor public awareness, limited opportunities, and lack of supportive infrastructure (Hastings, 2018). With this pioneering initiative underway, British Dressage is taking steps to dismantle these barriers, envisioning a more inclusive environment for all riders.

Exploring Further Possibilities

There are several fascinating topics for further research stemming from this initiative:

  • An exploration of the Paralympic classification system and its limitations in facilitating individuals with intellectual impairments.
  • The role of Virtus and SportExcel UK in enabling sports for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Strategies for increasing accessibility and inclusivity in equestrian sports for riders with intellectual impairments.
  • The effects of sport participation on individuals with intellectual impairments, extending to physical, emotional, and social benefits.
  • An insight into the Virtus Global Games and the opportunities presented for athletes with intellectual impairments to show off their skills on a global platform.

On the Road to Equality in Sports

In conclusion, the new initiative by British Dressage is a significant step for riders with intellectual impairments, and sets a precedent for other sports bodies to follow. The groundbreaking partnership with Virtus and SportExcel UK expands the scope of equestrian sports and offers opportunities to individuals previously overlooked in the realm of competitive sports. This collaboration reflects the importance of inclusivity in sports and reinforces the idea that everyone, irrespective of their abilities, should have equal opportunities to show their mettle in the sports field.


1. British Dressage. (n.d.). British Dressage launches new initiative to support riders with intellectual impairments. Retrieved from
2. Hastings, G. (2018). Barriers to participation in sport for people with intellectual disabilities: A systematic review. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 61(11), 1139-1153. doi: 10.1111/jir.12555.